Before my Dissociative Identity Disorder diagnosis, I thought everyone around me was chronically confused. When they’d make reference to something I’d supposedly said or done, I genuinely believed other people were wrong 9 times out of 10. Which is semi-reasonable, I think. I don’t know anyone who’d respond to an accusation of something they not only don’t remember, but also cannot imagine themselves ever doing with, “Oh gee, I guess I’m dealing with dissociative amnesia.” Instead, they’d probably say what I said:
To be perfectly honest, I still tend to err on the side of thinking other people are mistaken (let’s say 7.5 times out of 10). If a friend mentioned “your trip to Paris last week,” in all likelihood I’d say the same thing, regardless of my diagnosis:
Unless I pieced together external evidence that proved, without question, that I had in fact been to Paris. If a routine check of my credit card statement reflected charges for a flight to Paris … and I called the credit card company (convinced that some ne’er-do-well had stolen my card information and enjoyed a trip to Paris on my dime) demanding a reversal of the charges … searching with increasing desperation for proof that I hadn’t been in Paris only to find further evidence that I had … I might respond to such a mention differently:
That’s what’s called confabulation, a less-than-honest way of compensating for dissociative amnesia. Or, in layman’s terms, trying not to look like an ass. And despite the fact that I’m out about having Dissociative Identity Disorder, I still cover for my amnesia this way. I do it partly because it’s so instinctive, so habitual, that not doing it requires awareness, followed by effort and a willingness to interrupt myself and clarify:
And that last is another reason I still engage in confabulation. Amnesia is embarrassing. So when I saw this post from Zoe Smith, detailing her A) recent excursion to Paris, B) inability to recall said excursion, and C) subsequent attempts to figure out what happened, I thought her rather brave. Zoe allows the public to read along as she pieces together those few days of her life, using her Twitter timeline to do so. She explains that ” … in a way I am glad for my Twitter addiction as I honestly would have no idea what happened between the evening of the 8th of June and the evening of the 12th of June without it.”
I’m glad for it too. Because with that post, Zoe has provided the public an inside look at something that is generally private and often unnoticeable to outside observers – piecing together the dissociative experience. Which, I think, is pretty awesome.
(And more difficult than simply refusing to believe you went to Paris at all, more painfully revealing than confabulation.)